CHICAGO (AP) — The jury in Jussie Smollett’s trial began deliberating Wednesday, after a prosecutor mentioned there’s “overwhelming proof” that the previous “Empire” actor lied to police about being the sufferer of an anti-gay, racist assault and his protection lawyer mentioned the fees are primarily based on lies.
The deliberations started after a roughly one-week trial by which two brothers testified that Smollett recruited them to pretend the assault close to his dwelling in downtown Chicago in January 2019. They mentioned Smollett, who’s Black and homosexual, orchestrated the hoax, telling them to place a noose round his neck, yell racist and homophobic slurs and tough him up in view of a surveillance digital camera, and that he mentioned he wished video of the hoax made public by way of social media.
Smollett testified that he was the sufferer of an actual hate crime, telling jurors “there was no hoax. ” He referred to as the brothers “liars” and mentioned the $3,500 test he wrote them was for meal and exercise plans. His attorneys argued that the brothers attacked the actor as a result of they’re homophobic and that they made up the story in regards to the assault being staged however mentioned they wouldn’t testify towards Smollett if he paid them every $1 million.
In his closing argument Wednesday, particular prosecutor Dan Webb advised the jury that what Smollett did caused Chicago police to spend enormous resources investigating an alleged crime that turned out to be pretend. Smollett, who’s Black and homosexual, advised police somebody put a noose round his neck and yelled racist and homophobic slurs.
“Moreover being towards the legislation, it’s simply plain flawed to outright denigrate one thing as severe as an actual hate crime after which make sure that it concerned phrases and symbols which have such historic significance in our nation,” Webb mentioned.
He additionally accused Smollett of mendacity to jurors, saying surveillance video from earlier than the alleged assault and that evening contradicts key moments of Smollett’s testimony.
“On the finish of the day, he lacks any credibility in any respect,” Webb mentioned
Protection lawyer Nenye Uche mentioned in his closing argument that the brothers are “refined liars,” including that in testimony final week one of many brothers “mentioned ‘I don’t recall’ so many instances, it’s ridiculous.”
“The whole prosecution’s case, together with the muse of the case, is constructed like a home of playing cards,” Uche mentioned.
Taking the witness stand this week, Smollett repeatedly denied the assault was a pretend. He described how he was the sufferer of a hate crime whereas strolling in his neighborhood early on Jan. 29, 2019.
Smollett testified that he was returning dwelling from shopping for a sandwich round 2 a.m. when somebody yelled a racist, homophobic comment that referenced the TV present “Empire.” The individual additionally shouted one thing about “MAGA nation,” an obvious reference to then-President Donald Trump’s slogan “Make America Nice Once more.” The slogan additionally had been scrawled on some hate mail, that includes a drawing of a stick determine hanging by a noose, that Smollett had acquired on the “Empire” set, he testified.
Smollett mentioned when he turned to confront the individual, a person hit him within the head and he fell to the bottom, the place he mentioned one other man kicked him earlier than the attackers ran away. Smollett mentioned he seen a rope, like a noose, round his neck after the assault. When he returned dwelling, a pal referred to as Chicago police, one thing Smollett mentioned he wouldn’t have achieved as a result of as a Black man he doesn’t belief police.
Uche advised the jury that one of many brothers, Olabingo Osundairo, posted homophobic slurs on social media. He additionally recalled that Abimbola Osundairo testified he went to a bathhouse with Smollett however denied any sexual relationship. Smollett later testified that the lads carried out intercourse acts collectively on the bathhouse. Uche advised advised Olabingo’s homophobia and Abimbola’s “self-hatred” have been motives for his or her assault.
One other attainable motive, Uche mentioned, was that Abimbola Osundairo wished to be employed as Smollett’s safety.
“These guys need to generate profits,” he mentioned.
Webb mentioned Smollett lied when he testified that he picked up the Osundairo brothers a couple of days earlier than the alleged assault so they might work out, quite than to do a “dry run” of the pretend assault, because the brothers advised jurors final week. In surveillance video, the lads are seen driving round Smollett’s condo constructing 3 times, however Smollett by no means parked his automobile to go exercise.
The brothers testified that Smollett identified a surveillance digital camera close to the intersection that will file the pretend assault, so it could possibly be publicized on social media. However Smollett testified Tuesday that it wasn’t uncommon for him to drive round in circles, and that he canceled the plan to work out as a result of he didn’t need to work out with Olabingo Osundairo, whom he hadn’t invited alongside.
Uche advised jurors that Smollett usually drove round smoking marijuana and making music, and he questioned why prosecutors didn’t get hold of surveillance video of him doing so.
“They don’t need to do it as a result of it might present you it wasn’t a dry run,” Uche mentioned.
Webb additionally referenced surveillance video that reveals the Osundairo brothers strolling across the space the evening of the alleged assault. Webb questioned how the brothers — who didn’t dwell close by — would know to be within the space round 2 a.m. throughout freezing chilly climate for the pretend assault.
“They knew the place he was going to be as a result of Smollett advised them the place he was going to be,” Webb mentioned.
However Uche mentioned the brothers testified they arrived 40 minutes early, including “they have been casing him.”
Webb additionally questioned why Smollett didn’t flip over his cellphone to police or give them a DNA pattern or entry to his medical information to assist with the investigation. Smollett testified he doesn’t belief Chicago police, and that he was involved about his privateness.
“If he was a real sufferer of against the law he wouldn’t be withholding proof,” Webb mentioned.
Uche referred to as it “nonsense” for Chicago police to ask Smollett for his DNA when he was nonetheless thought-about a sufferer of against the law. He famous Smollett later offered DNA to the FBI for a separate investigation into hate mail he had acquired on the “Empire” studio shortly earlier than the alleged assault.
“He wasn’t hiding something,” Uche mentioned.
The disorderly conduct charge is a category 4 felony that carries a jail sentence of as much as three years, however specialists have mentioned if Smollett is convicted, he would possible be positioned on probation and ordered to carry out group service.
Try the AP’s complete coverage of the Jussie Smollett case.